The Hind Life and Education Trust of India (HLET), a non-governmental organization, has been formally launched to seek support of the UN agencies, governments and aid organizations across the world with the mandate to remove barriers to education for children of the extreme poor and to set up health facilities for the underprivileged in India.
Speaking on this occasion, Rizwana Khan, an HLET trustee, called for collaboration with Gulf NGOs, saying that “the mandate of the NGO is to work primarily in health, education and media fields; where weaker sections of Indian society are lagging behind.” The HLET will work tirelessly for removing barriers to tuition-free education, which will help in reducing the rising number of out-of-school children especially in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.
“At the Hind Life and Education Trust, we are committed to eliminating barriers to education for children of the extreme poor and in particular homeless children,” said Khan. “We are worried that India, particularly the state of Bihar, is still home to a sizeable population of out-of-school children,” she added, while referring to some of the initiatives to be launched by her NGO shortly.
According to the report of the India’s National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), 32 million Indian children of age up to 13 years have never attended any school, the majority of them belonging to the socially disadvantaged class (2014). “And, when it comes to quality education, there is an extreme shortage of qualified and dedicated teachers,” said the report. Evidently, nothing extraordinary can be expected from students. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) and several other studies reveal that more than 50 percent of class 5 students in India cannot even read basic text or solve a basic arithmetic problem.
Referring to the poor health facilities, Khan expressed her concerns. In fact, some 2.4 million Indians die of treatable conditions every year, the worst situation among 136 nations studied for a report published in “The Lancet”. Poor care quality leads to more deaths than insufficient access to healthcare–1.6 million Indians died due to poor quality of care in 2016, nearly twice as many as due to non-utilization of healthcare services (838,000 persons).
“For too long, the global health discourse has been focused on improving access to care, without sufficient emphasis on high quality care,” Muhammad Pate, co-chair of the commission that produced the report, who is also chief executive of Big Win Philanthropy and former minister of state for health in Nigeria, said in a statement. “Providing health services without guaranteeing a minimum level of quality is ineffective, wasteful and unethical,” he said.
Referring to the HLET’s mandate to train youngsters belonging to the minority segments in India, Khan accused the media of inadequate representation of the problems of the minority communities. She stressed the need to strive for significantly increasing the representation of the oppressed sections. “There are many reports that pointed out that the representation of Muslims, Dalits, backward castes and minorities in the media sector in India is inadequate,” she noted. “It was the major reason for issues related to minority and oppressed sections getting either downplayed or ignored,” she added.
Spelling out the aims and objectives of the Trust, she said that the HLET will launch some projects to provide the highest level of health facilities to the children, adult and elders across the remote areas of the country, mainly in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. The HLET, based in Patna city of India, has begun the process to formulate some initiatives with the sole objective to advance knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer.
Knowledge-sharing and knowledge-transfer are both the creed and mission of the HLET. Grassroots activists, decision-makers, public servants, and even general public often miss vital know-how and support to face tremendous challenges stemming from lack of knowledge: what are the steps to take toward equality for all societal groups? This is why the HLET was initiated to share methods, knowledge and tools to empower the locally-based peacebuilder and to empower the skilled and the unskilled to share their knowledge effortlessly.
Khan said that the HLET will connect several parties using online tools for virtual workshops, discourses, exchange of information and mini lectures. Recorded materials will be facilitated and provided, furthering the support whenever and wherever need in person. “Technology can be a useful tool in the advancement of human knowledge and in making the world a better place to live,” said Khan, while also referring to the efforts of the NGO in promoting peace and interfaith dialogue in India.
She said that “when key societal stabilizers are strengthened locally, the ability to live with dignity, free from want and fear, is dramatically increased.” She said that there is also an urgent need for NGOs like HLET to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding among different religions and sects in India. This will eventually stop the communal riots and caste conflagrations, which erupt every now and then in India, she added.
Khan said that the greatest sufferers of communal violence are the innocent common people who get caught inextricably into circumstances beyond their control. There is an avoidable loss of life and essential public property gets damaged. It lends to hooliganism, and the situation is often exploited by anti-social elements by plundering and indulging in activities only for their personal gains. This is also evident from the riots that took place in the Indian capital city of Delhi recently.
She said that the anti-national elements get adequate opportunity to fan anti national feelings and work on creating an atmosphere to break the cohesiveness of our society. The atmosphere of uncertainty and internal turmoil dissuades the foreign investors to set up their businesses in India, said the trustee, while stressing the need for the government and the NGOs to sit in conjugation and find solution to this problem.
She said that the lawlessness accruing out of communal disharmony is exploited by the divisive forces operating in the country because of which internal security risks gets heightens. The social fabric of the society gets irreparably damaged and the conditions of mistrust serve as a catalyst for future conflicts on flimsy grounds. She said that the deployment of large-scale security forces dissipates the state exchequer and may result in occasional Human Rights abuses. The Human Development Index of the society is adversely affected by these hampering restrictions that are laid on the basic right to freedom of people, she noted.